Muscat: Security forces fired tear gas shells on demonstrators in Sohar on Friday and arrested a large number of young protesters as they marched from Shaikh Khalifa Mosque after afternoon prayers, according to an activist from the Industrial Port town about 230km north to Muscat.
According to witnesses, the march started with a handful of protesters but later in the afternoon the numbers kept increasing. After a while the security forces, present in big numbers, intervened.
The protesters, chased from the main road, spread into the nearby streets and gradually their number increased. The police had to fire tear-gas shells to disperse protesters. "Many shells were fired. Some shells fell very close to some of the houses," an activist told Gulf News from Sohar on the condition of anonymity. Protesters handed over a letter listing their demands to a senior police official.
The protesters were demanding the release of those convicted last month for protesting in Sohar last February and March. They were also demanding reforms, better wages and jobs for young Omanis. The protests in Oman started with a peaceful Green March in January earlier this year but later turned violent in Sohar, the last week of February. Since then three people have died during confrontations with the police.
Last Friday no demonstrations were held after only about 50 turned up for demonstration on July 8.
According to witnesses, the number was much larger on Friday and several were also arrested. There are unconfirmed reports of injuries to some of the demonstrations following baton charge by security agencies to break them up. The demonstrators in Sohar ended their protest at around 5.30pm.
"To avoid confrontation with security forces that could have bad consequences, the young protesters decided to end their demonstration and returned home," an activist said. A posting on a social media site claimed that an Omani journalist working for a local English daily was held in Sohar.